Our View: During awareness week, let’s fight stigma against acknowledging mental health

Breath in, breath out. Breath in, breath out. Again. In and out. One more time.

These are words many of us have said to ourselves in varying events, most likely stressful ones. Every person on this planet has surely experienced stress at one time or another. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 20 percent of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems. They report that about half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14 and that neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people.

Winter break is fast approaching, and while everyone is counting down the days to vacation, we also come to the realization that finals week isn’t that far off either. In relation to that and hoping to break the cultivated stigma around mental health, the volunteer club has organized a Mental Health Awareness week to be held from Dec. 19 to Dec. 22 and events to go along with each day.

To kick off the week, on Monday during third period, students will be encouraged to write a message on sticky notes which will be put on display outside the counseling office to create a positivity wall. These notes can be taken by anyone who wants or needs some positivity throughout the week. Feel free to add more positivity throughout the week too.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, an accredited therapist will be coming to the school to discuss coping methods for stress, anxiety, depression and more. There will be a question and answer portion and more information about mental health will be provided. This will be going on during both shifts of Power Hour on both days and will be held in the auditorium.

The last day before break, Thursday, will be a GREEN out; the official color of Mental Health Awareness. So come to school looking festive for the holidays while supporting a great cause. There will also be a bake sale in the Tiger’s Den, and the profits will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Iowa. In-kind donations are also very much welcomed.

In addition to all this, testimonies from people who have or who have had mental illnesses will be posted on Schoology throughout the week and will be published in the Hi-Line on Thursday, Dec. 22.

WHO explains that the misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental health are widespread. Despite the existence of effective treatments for mental disorders, some believe that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent or incapable of making decisions. This stigma can lead to abuse, rejection and isolation and exclude people from health care or support. This is unfair and unacceptable, so join us in celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week, and let’s all help end the stigma together.

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